The End is Near

The end of the semester, that is.

GUYS. I’m almost done with my first year of graduate school. What the heck? This time last year I was searching for apartments online, and now I’m published (just once, but it’s a start!), have a semester teaching under my belt, and I’ve made such great friends with people in my cohort.

I also don’t feel as clueless–I felt so clueless at the beginning of all of this. I had no idea what I was doing (and I still don’t sometimes), but gosh darn it, I’m DOING this grad school thing. That’s something!

I think I have a handle on things? I think?

And while the end of the semester is certainly near, I have so much to do in such a short period of time. But it’s all good–really. Sure, I’m stressed, but who isn’t? I’m so lucky to be in graduate school, to be learning so much. And I mean SO much.

My brain has grown three sizes at least.

(And, yes, I know that’s not how the acquisition of knowledge works.)

Here’s a little list of some of the things I’ve learned during my first year of my MFA:

  1. Grad school is a lot of work and requires a TON of multitasking. My time management skills have DEFINITELY come in handy! I know this seems like a “You think, Kaila?” kind of point, but there is truly a difference in the workload between undergrad and graduate school, at least in my experience. If you happen to be thinking of pursuing your MFA in creative writing, it’s a good thing to know you will be doing lots and lots and lots and lots of work. (Which is awesome.)
  2. I know very little about fiction writing, but I’m learning so much every single day.
  3. Teaching is so much more than the time spent in the classroom. I knew this before coming in, but you really don’t know to what extent this is true until you actually teach.
  4. Teaching is great and I love it. It’s also stressful, but the great stuff outweighs the stress stuff.
  5. Cooking at home is such a stress reliever AND a money saver. Oh my goodness, I have learned the greatness that is eating more meals at home!
  6. “No homework days” should not be spent feeling guilty about not doing your homework. Savor it. Rest up. (I’m still working on this one.)
  7. Library book sales are an incredible thing and they happen once a semester. Buy all of the books!
  8. Taking your dog on long, long walks helps you destress, helps your dog release some energy, and makes for a productive evening of work.
  9. Making friends with your colleagues means that classes are fun, offices are fun, everything’s fun. 
  10. I love school. I knew that, but now I’m pretty sure I want to stay in school for as long as possible–teaching or otherwise.

As I finish up my last bit of writing and grading for the semester, I can’t help but be so grateful for this opportunity to learn and work on my craft. I can’t wait to see what the next couple of years bring.

 

 

 

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Change

Well. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably noticed things have changed around here. My blog has a different name, different look. No more “Kaila’s Wonderland.”

Why did I change these things? Why change my name, the aesthetic?

I started this blog in 2014 to have space where I could write about what I loved in a non-academic way. Things I love/loved include books, pop culture, my life, Disney stuff, school. Really none of that has changed–I still [really] love Disney, books, pop culture, my life, and now graduate school. Since starting my blog, I’ve graduated college, done a Disney College Program, worked as a content writer, and worked as an editorial assistant for a city magazine. Now I’m pursuing an MFA in fiction and I’m writing fiction regularly.  I even have a story published (check out the new “Publications” page), and I’m constantly submitting work in the hopes of getting more stories published.

With all that I’ve done, I’m starting to know what I want to do with my life–or at least have an idea of what my “next step” will be. And with this knowledge, it was time for a little rebranding.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know this site used to be called “Kaila’s Wonderland,” or kailainwonderland.com. I’ll always love the part of me who began the blog, the college junior who couldn’t sleep one night so she started a blog on a whim. That name–“Kaila in Wonderland” or “Kaila’s Wonderland”–was my first and favorite idea, and I was so proud of the worlds it combined: my name, Disney, literature.

Now that different aspects of my life are in focus–writing, my career–I just know it’s time to change things up. I won’t necessarily write about different things, but I’ll write about more things in this space, particularly about my life in graduate school, my writing, etc. Perhaps there will be more musings, more ramblings. I don’t know. But I’ll  always write about things I love, which includes everything I’ve always loved.

The new name of the blog, my new “brand” if you will, truly encompasses everything I am. I’ve always lived my life like me, “By Kaila.” I’ve always written words by me, “By Kaila.” This is a space where I’ll continue to do that, and I hope you’ll continue to follow along.

Thanks for reading, friends, and thanks for sticking with me since 2014. I can’t wait to keep writing in this space, and I hope you enjoy all the words written by me, By Kaila.

Hope and New Beginnings and All That Jazz

I’ve talked about how much I love the New Year on this blog before, but this year I love it times ten. I’m so hopeful and so energized and ready to take on whatever comes my way.

Like so excited.

I think I’m ready to not feel like I’m in a “funk” this year. I’ll be honest, after returning home from my college program in August of 2016, I felt lost and out-of-sorts, unsure and hesitant. Kind of…blah. I think the transition from college to Disney World to the real world to graduate school has been daunting and rough at times. But now I’m feeling good. More balanced. Ready. Excited. Hopeful.

Some quick little goals/resolutions:

  1. Enjoy my first year of teaching–I’ll be teaching composition one as part of my graduate teaching assistantship this coming semester, and I am so excited to give it a whirl.
  2. Make my health a priority this year. Work out! Feel like an athlete again! Eat well! Be mindful! Feel great!
  3. Write and write and write and write and write and revise and revise and revise and revise and submit and submit and submit and submit to magazines and whatnot.
  4. Be happy. Stress less. Enjoy the little things.
  5. Find a hobby–maybe cooking? Something?

I hope everyone has a happy, productive, and magical 2018.

Random Things I Miss About the DCP

Did you guys know it’s almost been a full two years since I began the Disney College Program?

TWO. WHOLE. YEARS. And so much has changed.

I’ve been missing that time in my life a lot recently–like, a lot, a lot–and it’s hard to explain why I’m missing it so much. I wouldn’t trade where I am and what I’m doing for the world. I know I’m where I’m supposed to be, and I don’t necessarily want to go back to Disney to work (although that option will never not be there).

There are just random things I miss about the experience. And I miss them so much lately that my heart aches.

Why am I so dramatic?!

I think it’s that time of year where nostalgia creeps in and you start thinking about your past and your childhood, and the Disney College Program encompassed the most complete feeling of carefree-ness I’ve ever experienced. I lived and worked at the most magical place on Earth, and I focused on having fun for six whole months. It was hard not to be happy during that time, and naturally you start to miss feeling like a kid 24/7.

In the spirit of procrastination as I work on my final projects of the semester, I wanted to make a list of random things I miss that aren’t necessarily the obvious things, for my enjoyment and for yours.

Enjoy!

  1. My friends (obviously). The people I met on my DCP are my kindred spirits, and I miss them every day. I’m thankful for group texts and Snapchats and Skype calls.
  2. The green carpet in my apartment at Chatham Square. I can’t explain why I miss this, but I do. I’m weird; it’s weird.
  3. The smell of Flame Tree Barbecue during my shifts with Dug and Russell–during lunchtime, my stomach was always growling.
  4. The smell of characters as you hug them. It’s distinct. You get it if you know.
  5. The Tree of Life in the mornings before the park opened. I’d walk to my location and think I was the luckiest girl in the world because I saw something so beautiful sans crowds.
  6. Loop music that I’ve now memorized the melodies to. I’m looking at you, Asia in DAK. Also–the loop music in Adventureland is exactly the same as the loop music on Discovery Island (specifically the Pizzafari area). That music is my jam.
  7. Taking pictures constantly and never feeling awkward. Selfies all day every day. Princess poses galore. Foot pops, silly faces, the works.
  8. Park days where the crowds are low and your enthusiasm is so high and you do so much stuff and skip around saying, “Nobody’s HEEERRREEE!!!” with your arms outstretched to demonstrate the emptiness.
  9. Looking at pins you swear you’d eventually buy–some you do, and then you realize pins are EXPENSIVE. But you still buy some more. Because why not?
  10. Smells. All smells. Even backstage smells. The drive-through at my local Panera smells just like backstage Tusker House and it’s weird and thrilling.
  11. Speaking of backstage…walking toward base at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and walking by an unfinished Pandora with its floating mountains and its mystery and wishing you could see it finished one day (mission accomplished).
  12. Wearing ears constantly. I love ears. They complete any outfit.
  13. Solo park days when you just sit somewhere and just take everything in.
  14. The Voices of Liberty. I LOVE THEM.
  15. Watching Festival of the Lion King multiple times in a single day. Because we could.
  16. Doing the Tumble Monkey’s “Circle of Life” choreography as soon as you exit the Harambe Theatre, and saying “Look guys, I can be a tumble monkey!” to your friends.
  17. Main Street. And Photopass. Stopping at every Photopass down Main Street. “WE HAVE THE PHOTOPASS!”
  18. Scoring fast passes to big-ticket attractions the same day you plan to ride them. Frozen! Soarin’! Mine Train! SUCCESS!
  19. Feeling sweaty and sunburned and freckled 99.9999% of the time.
  20. My Teva tan. I was proud of it, because I never tan.
  21. Pinning my name tag to my blueberry shirt every day and nearly sticking myself with the pin every day.
  22. Exhaustion-driven sleep–the best kind, the most “out like a light” kind.
  23. Talking to kids all day, and seeing those same kids’ faces light up when they meet their favorite character or when they see the parade or the fireworks for the first time.
  24. Festival of Fantasy and reciting the entire opening monologue thing and singing along to the lyrics: DREAMS THAT GLOW / WONDROUS, DAZZLING, BRILLIANTLY.
  25. CELEBRATE THE MAGIC! (R.I.P.) Also crying when Walt Disney said something about remembering it all started with a mouse…who could that be?
  26. Oh yeah. Mickey. Mickey Mouse. I miss seeing him.

That’s all for now, folks. I’ll see ya real soon.

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After receiving my Traditions ears… I CRY. Forever thankful for Disney and the sweetest memories. 

 

Uncontrollable Sobbing in a Movie Theater

Also known as “the time I saw Disney-Pixar’s Coco.” 

You guys. I needed this movie, and I needed it so much that I didn’t even know I needed it.

I’ll probably write about some spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it, stop reading and GO SEE IT NOW IMMEDIATELY PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

I’ll wait.

***

Ok. Glad you’re back! Did you get some popcorn? Always get the popcorn.

Wasn’t this movie beautiful? I was so inspired by the visuals and the aesthetic of this movie from the opening scene–animation etched into colorful flags, marigold petals that glitter golden and magically, the skin (I know…weird) of the characters so perfectly imperfect. This movie was just gorgeous visually.

Now to the themes. They’re what left me a sobbing mess as the credits rolled, they left my sniffling on the car ride home, they left me contemplating life and my family and loved ones days after the trip to the theater.

Now let’s get a little deep.

Without giving so much away, this movie is about how our loved ones are remembered after they’re gone and how important it is to honor and remember their stories and pass down their memories so that they can live on in our hearts and live on in a real sense.

How Pixar conveys this message is so beautiful, and the ending of the movie made me think about my own family in a very real, very hard way. I couldn’t stop crying–red faced, swollen eyes, runny nose, heaving chest–because I couldn’t stop thinking about my grandpa.

My grandpa passed away about twelve years ago, but he’s still the most amazing man I’ve ever met. He made everything so fun for my sister and me, and he was a storyteller to boot, a spinner of tales, a pretender-of-sorts–all in good fun and for our entertainment, of course. He was the ultimate believer in imagination and make-believe, and I feel so lucky to have had him as a grandpa. He always lived his life so others could feel loved and happy, safe and secure. He wanted his loved ones to have fun above all things–even when the cards were against him (believe me, my grandpa faced so much heart-wrenching adversity), he faced life with incredible positivity and love and a joyousness I haven’t seen in too many people.

Ugh. I love him so much.

Coco reminded me to always keep his legacy alive through storytelling, the very thing he was so good at. My grandpa’s story deserves to be told to my future children, their future children, to people on the street, to this blog. My grandpa touched my life more than I can express, and he deserves to live on through the spoken or written word.

All of these emotions about my grandpa and about my own legacy in the world hit me like a ton of bricks as the movie ended, but that’s exactly why I thought this movie was so good–its message transcends into real life. Yes, all movies can do this in a way, but the themes in Coco–family, remembrance, legacy, love–are so universal and so poignant.

The movie’s tear-inducing, but it’s also change-inducing. That’s why it’s so good.

In short, go see Coco. I loved it, 5 out of 5 stars or pixie dust particles or whatever tickles your fancy.

P.S. Coco‘s got a great soundtrack, too. I’m telling you, this movie is gold.

Rapunzel Hair

Hair is a funny, funny thing. We become attached to our locks, desperate to find the style that’s right for our faces, for our personalities, for our “aesthetic” we want to portray to the world.

We become attached to our locks, desperate to find the style that’s right for our faces, for our personalities, for our “aesthetic” we want to portray to the world.

I used to cling desperately to my long hair. There was a point when I had “mermaid hair,” hair so long it could cover…well. You know.

But I’ve always wanted a long bob. Always, ever since I was a little girl. But fear and my involvement in athletics made me wary of chopping my hair–I thought a long bob would make my face appear thicker, or I thought I’d miss braids and long ponytails. I thought my long hair was such a big part of me, and I was so afraid to part with it, even though it’s what I truly wanted.

You know what I finally realized just a few weeks ago? HAIR GROWS BACK. So I cut it. I’m going to try to find pictures of the longest hair and my shortest style and insert them right here:

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You know what’s amazing? This was my first haircut in which I almost HAPPY CRIED with the results. I WAS SO HAPPY THAT I FINALLY DID WHAT I WANTED! And I’m still so happy!

The moral of the story? Hair (or anything, really) doesn’t define you. You define you. Your dreams define you, your personality, your likes, your spirit. Our girl Rapunzel is the perfect example of a physical thing not embodying your essence–while she didn’t cut her hair herself, her hair was still her defining quality before the chop. When it was lobbed off, she was free of an expectation, free of Mother Gothel’s abusive restraints.

She went from “Rapunzel with the hair that glows when she sings” to just “Rapunzel.” And that’s all that she ever really needed to be.

I’m not saying long hair’s bad. Not at all–mermaid hair (or buzzed hair or blue hair or any kind of hair) is beautiful. I’m just saying to do what you want to do, do the things that truly make you who you are, and become who you want to be. That’s all we can ever do: love the things we love, be nice to people, and find joy in doing exactly the things you’ve always thought you’d never try. Let’s do the things we like and make a little bit of a difference in our little corners of the world.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go shake my head because I love how my new hair bounces when it’s curled.

Best. Day. Ever!

Grad School Update and the Disney Stuff That Gets Me Through it All

Geez. Long title.

If y’all don’t know, I’m pursing my MFA in creative writing (fiction concentration).

It’s crazy. I’m crazy. You’re crazy. Wait, what?

Grad school is tough, but I’m learning so much. I know, know, you guys are probably like:   “Kaila, you’re at school, of course you’re learning a lot.” But learning is not always a given, I’ve found.

But I am. I’m learning. AND I LOVE LEARNING!

As a budding fiction writer, I’m learning that not all I write can be about sunshine and rainbows and happy happy happy. Of course, there could be moments of happiness, or there could happy(ish) undertones to literary fiction. But happy doesn’t always make a good story, and I’m finally finding my groove when it comes to the themes I want to tackle. (You’d think I’d know this by now, but hey. I’m admittedly a novice when it comes to making up stories.)

BUT. I feel like my writing is already improving by leaps and bounds. I’m constantly working on my stories–before class, after class, at home, in the student union, in bed, while Ellie chews on my feet. I’m either thinking about writing, actually writing, or editing writing. I read, too. Not much for fun, but I still make time for a bit of recreational reading. Workshopping is scary/tough/disheartening/empowering. But I’m learning to love the process.

My blog’s taken a backseat, I know, but I’m changing that right now. I miss talking about Disney on the daily–okay, I actually haven’t stopped talking about it, but the subject isn’t as much of a priority anymore. At least in my daily life. I gots school and work and stuffs. Sometimes I tell the students I tutor in the writing center that I worked for Disney (they see my stickers on my laptop), and that’s always a fun icebreaker.

Anyways. Here’s a list Disney things helping me get through my first year of my MFA:

  • Music. Always. Currently been loving the new Duck Tales theme song–Donald’s my favorite, so listening to this while I put my makeup on is a way to start the day, let me tell ya.
  • Club Mickey Mouse! Those kids make me smile! It’s sad that I’m so old that I call 16-18 year-olds kids. Ha.
  • My apartment is so cute, and it’s filled with mostly Disney crap. I’m just now figuring out where to display my Tsum Tsums. Once my living room is sort of decorated, I need to take some pics and show you guys. I love it.
  • I bought Bambi recentlyso that was nice.
  • The anticipation of Coco and The Last Jedi. Goodness I can’t WAIT for both!
  • Ellie. She’s my dog, but she’s got a Disney name, so it works. She got fixed the other day, poor baby, but she’s doing great.
  • My backpack. My Vera Bradley Disney print backpack actually broke (darn zipper), but my student union carries the JanSport DISNEY COLLECTION! I died of happiness inside. I bought the print with Mickey and Donald climbing up a mountain; I’ll insert a link to a photo here.  (Ignore the horrid price tag, I was desperate and it was cute, okay?!) Donald’s face cracks me up and makes my heart happy.

There you have it. A quick list of Disney stuff I’m loving.

I’ve missed you, blog. I’ll try to write more often, because you make me happy.

See ya real soon!

Kids Grown Up

I was so happy and lucky to win a contest on Instagram–I enter a lot giveaways, so to actually win something was such a thrill!

But this wasn’t just any old contest–the prize was a copy of Sophie Jo’s (@sophiejowrites on Twitter and Instagram) Disney-inspired poetry book, kids grown up. 

POETRY. INSPIRED BY MY FAVORITE THING EVER. DISNEY. This literature-loving girl’s heart was SO happy to win an item I’ve been eyeing for months.

First of all, the aesthetic of the book is so simple and clean, and I can’t wait to get more furniture so I can get a little stand for it and display it forever. I have a small collection of Disney books, and this is the perfect addition to my menagerie of magic.

Second of all, the poems are wonderful. (I know I’m using a lot of italics for this post, but bear with me). She posts a lot of the poems on her social media, but there were a few I hadn’t seen before. One poem, “windows and doors,” left me teary-eyed. The persona of the poem captures the essence of visiting my favorite place–I think the poem refers to Disneyland Paris, but I can see my beloved Walt Disney World when I read it. There are some lines that really touched me and conveyed how feel about Disney parks:

“and four went strolling, hand in hand: / through pinks and golds and clouds and swells / of music.” (Such beautiful language that puts me right on Main Street.)

“for days inside my head was calmer.” (YES!)

“he waved at me! / he remembers me!” (Me with any character I’ve ever worked with/met.)

There’s so much more to this poem, but I should stop quoting. Go. Purchase this book to read this poem;  I love it so much. Whenever I get “homesick,” this will be my go-to.

The star of the show, in my opinion, is the title poem, “kids grown up.” This little poem completely describes my everyday existence in every way, and it’s full of humor that any adult Disney fanatic can understand. My favorite lines:

“…then i can / think happy thoughts / and fly, and fly, and / thank my second star that i / take joy in stuff like how to store / my cheese baguette and how to pour / my ~CHILDLIKE~ self into the day…” 

THAT LAST BIT…ISN’T THAT BEAUTIFUL?! I hope I pour my “childlike self” into each and every day.

To Sophie Jo: thank you for selecting me as one of the winners of your contest. I am over the moon about your precious book–it will act as a source of inspiration for me as I make my way through graduate school and work on achieving my own writing goals.

To my readers: CHECK THIS GIRL OUT! I hope she publishes more in the future, because I just love the language she uses to describe my favorite thing in the world.

As always, have a magical day, and please pour your own childlike self into every second of it. That’s an order.

 

 

 

Encouragement

Today, around 10:00 a.m.

Hi, blog! Long time no write. Well, I have been writing, just not for you. Which is dumb, but I’m remedying this problem right this very second! Yay!

Grad school has been a whirlwind so far. Truly. I’ve loved it, but it’s been an adjustment. Ellie and I are finally settling into a little routine (I think), and I’m really good at heating up Lean Cuisines and Stouffer’s French bread pizza.

Right now, my stomach is in knots and I’m just a nervous bundle of energy. Today, I turn in my first bit of fiction for one of my classes.

I’m so terrified, guys! I just hope my piece is sort of up to par with all the PhD and the second or third year MFA students in my class. I just hope that my school didn’t let me in by accident, and that my professor and my fellow students won’t read what I wrote and say, “Holy cow, where did this girl come from? How did she manage to get here?!” I know this is a common thought and fear among grad students–“imposter syndrome,” it’s called–but I hate it! I hate thinking I’m not good enough. I hate thinking that other people might think that I’m not good enough.

Isn’t that silly?!

Here’s where the title of this post comes in: encouragement. I’m going to write a bit of encouragement to me and to all of you.

Dear You,

Maybe you will be horrible. You might not be good enough. There’s always that chance that you won’t be good at something. There’s a chance  you’ll fall flat on your face. 

(Wow, strong start, am I right?)

BUT. Even if you are horrible, why is that such a big deal? If you want to be good at something, just put your head down, work like you’ve never worked before, and you’re bound to get better. You might never be the best, but gosh darn it, you can be your best!

(So much cheese; I cringe. But I’m a huge fan of all things cheesy.)

What you wrote is your very best at this moment in time. That’s all you can do. Take the criticism, take the feedback, and then run with. Get better. Work at it. Keep your optimism and grit and your stupid little Pollyanna smile. 

(I smile a lot. Former cast member probs, I suppose.)

You got this. Work! Know that you won’t always get gold stars, and embrace that feeling of uncertainty. You get to work at what you love to do, and you’re going to get better. 

Sincerely, 

Me.

annnnnnddddd….

Today, around 4:29 p.m. 

UPDATE: The class went well! I did a happy dance in my car before I drove home! I got some great notes and good feedback, and everyone was so nice. I’m happy to be here, and I’m so happy to be learning from such talented writers.

My anxiety has been lifted (for the moment, at least), but the bit of encouragement I wrote this morning is still relevant. I hope it helps you, because my little pep talk really helped me “buck up” and embrace my fears. If I acknowledge my anxieties, I can face them head on and accept them. Why stress about being good enough? What’s the worst thing that could happen?

I hope you have a great day, my friends. Do your best today and every day.

 

 

“Sivako!”

Here I am, fifty-three days post Disney trip, settled into my new apartment, anticipating the start of graduate school, and I am finally, finally sitting down to write about Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

My obvious, general thoughts first: I loved it. It was so cool. I want to eat cheeseburger pods and root vegetable chips every single day for the rest of my life.

Now some specifics. Pandora is one of the most incredible things I’ve set eyes on at a Disney park–lush, green floating mountains looming before and above you, cascading waterfalls, florescent flora and fauna. The transition from Discovery Island or Harambe to Pandora is seamless–it’s as if Pandora has always belonged to Animal Kingdom, it’s like it’s always been there.

The attractions, guys. They are incredible–sincerely two of the most advanced, immersive experiences I have ever encountered. The Na’vi River Journey was stunningly beautiful; I was only able to experience this attraction once on my trip, but it did not disappoint. If you’re a Disney fan reading this blog, you’ve probably seen countless Snapchats and video of the animatronic figure that guests encounter on this attraction. And if you’re not an avid Disney fan and just read my posts for the heck of it (thank you), please open a new tab, type something along the lines of “shaman on the Na’vi River Journey in Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom” in your search bar. I’ll wait.

Good, isn’t it? Really good. Disney imaginears never fail to inspire me with their innovations.

Now. Let’s talk about the star of the Pandora show, Flight of Passage, the most INCREDIBLE attraction I have EVER been on. All caps are NECESSARY.

Minor spoilers are ahead, so skip a few paragraphs if you want your first time experiencing this attraction to be a complete surprise.

The basis of Flight of Passage is this: by linking with your very own Na’vi Avatar, you  have the ability to experience a ride on the back of an Ikran, commonly known as a banshee on the remote planet of Pandora, made famous in the 2009 feature film. You enter a “chamber” that collects some DNA data, and then you are matched with an Avatar based on the results. From there, you enter the flight room, board a flight simulator that looks like a high-tech bike, and don your “flight googles.” When the
Avatar link is complete, you are transported to the remote outreaches of Pandora and are flying on the back of your banshee. You feel him/her breathing beneath your splayed legs. You feel and smell sweet Pandorian wind as you dip, dive, and swoop. You see some of the most beautiful visuals–the floating mountains, other worldly creatures, forests, oceans, and more. The experience is truly incredible. I think I’ve used the word “incredible” fifty billion and a half times in this post.

The bottom line: Flight of Passage is the most thrilling attraction I had ever been on–I wanted to do it again and again and again and again…so on and so forth.

It’s that good.

After my ride through scenic Pandora, I had an overwhelming feeling of possibility. Anything is possible. People–human people, not superhuman Na’vi–created Flights of Passage with their own brain and will power. We, mere guests, were (are) able to experience something so amazing because someone–some people–had the gumption to sit down and figure out how to make it happen.

That notion blows me away.

One of my favorite aspects of the attraction is the smattering of Na’vi vocabulary. My favorite Na’vi phrase is the title of this post: “sivako.” In the native Na’vi tongue, this phrase is equivalent to the English phrase “rise to the challenge.” Our Na’vi guide on the attraction urges us to do just that–with a shrill “Sivako!” we dive (alarmingly and wonderfully fast) into a lush forest laden with dangers and surprises.

You passively rise to the challenge on Flight of Passage, but once you experience this attraction, you long to actively “sivako” in your daily life. Because I experienced the magnificent result of creative brain and will power of Disney imaginears and storytellers, I desperately want to make something–to write something–that has an impact on someone as Disney imaginears have made an impact on me.

In short: I urge you to make plans to experience this world in the next few years. It’s worth it. So, so worth it.

“Sivako,” my friends. I hope you rise to the challenge today and every day. In the meantime, I’ll start anticipating my return to Pandora and to my banshee, who I lovingly named Bertha. I just love alliteration.